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... not the movie, but the number of self-professed Holmes aficionados
who apparently have no knowledge of Holmes. For the record, Holmes was
a miserable, irresponsible drug addict who did indeed sleep on the
floor, insult his best friend, experiment on his dog, and never ever
wore a deerstalker's cap (at least, not until television was invented).
He was a brawler who practiced martial arts and was as likely to slum
around in the filthiest of rags as he was a suit.
It wasn't until after Doctor Watson took him in hand that he truly refined himself and became a "respectable" member of society. And yes, we can tell that this movie takes place THAT early in their relationship because Watson has not yet married his wife (the retconning did annoy me, too, by the way, but you just can't avoid a little re-imagining here and there).
Speaking of unavoidable, Irene Adler, Holmes' one uncapturable (is that a word?), simply had to be cast as a potential love interest. The flirting, the romance, and the near-make-out session were irresistible to the director (and to all of the audience who're honest with themselves).
That being said, I felt Robert Downey, Jr. played Sherlock Holmes to perfection. His characteristic caustic attitude towards Lestrade and even Watson at times was exactly how I'd imagine him. He gives several summations of his observations and deductions that brought Holmes to life in an almost unparalleled way. His fight scenes (preceded the first few times by superhuman calculations) show both the mental and physical sides of Holmes in ways that Watson's notes can't quite convey, but at which they constantly hint.
As for Watson himself, Jude Law delivered a wonderful performance. I was a little skeptical of how well he fought, given Watson's wartime injury, but his character and demeanor were entirely on the nose. His loyalty to Holmes despite his frustrations with him could not have been captured more expertly, I feel. No one, no matter how patient or forgiving, could endure Holmes forever without the occasional confrontation. The original Holmes, after all, was not above insulting his best friend or even deriding his deductive capabilities at times. Nevertheless, Watson never could abandon his friend in his time of need.
This version (or vision, if you will) of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's greatest creation may be more swashbuckling, more thrilling, and more edgy than any other incarnation, but that doesn't make it any less faithful to the original. Aside from a little revisionist history in the cases of the female leads, nothing is that far out of the ordinary; and no amount of references to Madonna will change that.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Nearly hundreds of actors have played Sherlock Holmes and his sidekick
Dr. Watson, and it may seem rash to call Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law
the best Holmes-and-Watson-duo so far. But I've been a Sherlock Holmes
fan my whole life, and most of the portrayals I've seen of the
character only focus on an aspect or two of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's
character. In Guy Ritchie's film, as in Doyle's "canon", Sherlock
Holmes is an avid boxer, a martial artist, a dabbler in many sciences,
and a master of disguise. Most importantly, he's an expert in logic and
deduction. He playfully torments his housekeeper Ms. Hudson (Geraldine
James) and shares an antagonistic but symbiotic relationship with
police Inspector Lestrade (Eddie Marsan).
The movie opens with Holmes and Watson apprehending serial killing Satanist Lord Blackwood (played broodingly by Mark Strong). Blackwood is executed, but when he seemingly rises from the dead, the deductive duo must determine whether it's a supernatural occurrence or if there's a logical explanation. It's exactly the type of mystery Doyle would have devised, with plenty of twists and opportunities for Holmes to show off his genius as he races to stop a plot to take over England and (gasp!) America. Everything from the experiments Holmes performs in his Baker Street flat to his climatic revelation of the mystery on the Tower Bridge seems perfectly in line with Doyle's writing.
One of the only departures from the canon that bothered me was Sherlock's introduction to Dr. Watson's fiancée, Mary Morstan, played as a delicate English rose by Kelly Reilly. In the stories, Mary was Holmes' client in "The Sign of Four" before Holmes first encountered Irene Adler (Rachel McAdams) in "A Scandal in Bohemia." Then again, the continuity of the stories was rarely important to filmmakers, or even to Sir Arthur, so I'm just nitpicking.
As a film on its own merits, "Sherlock Holmes" is almost perfect. The movie's opening shot grabs you, and Guy Ritchie's directing stays gripping all the way through the end titles. His version of Victorian London is moody and atmospheric. Hans Zimmer's quirky score blends well with the film's tone and Downey Jr.'s off-kilter Holmes. Meanwhile, Jude Law transforms Dr. Watson from the bumbling comic relief of most movies into a cool, competent sidekick. Perhaps owing to his own considerable acting chops, he's the rare Watson who manages to be as interesting and watchable as Holmes. When he leaps into action, he relies on a sword-cane and a trusty revolver, while Sherlock favors a riding crop (which die-hard fans will recall was his preferred method of self-defense in the canon). Rachel McAdams manages to tweak Sherlock's classic adversary into a feisty action heroine. All the while, another familiar adversary skulks in the shadows.
Even when Sherlock Holmes feels a little bit more like James Bond, he doesn't feel any less like Sherlock Holmes. Ritchie finds a way to depict Sherlock's fighting as a mental exercise as much as it's a physical feat. In the same way, though "Sherlock Holmes" is grander and more commercial than Guy Ritchie's usual films, it doesn't feel any less like Guy Ritchie.
Do Guy Ritchie and Sherlock Holmes fit? Why, it's elementary my dear
movie fan. This is one of the most entertaining thrillers of the year
and the fantastic Downey Jr. and Law are a big part of the reason why.
They take top honors as the years best bro-mance, arguing like an old
married couple while deep down knowing that they'd be lost without each
other. Downey is Holmes and Law is sidekick Dr. Watson, embroiled in a
plot where the black-magic-practicing Lord Blackwood (a perfectly grave
and menacing Mark Strong) has risen from the dead after being sentenced
to hang. Rachel McAdams also shows up as Irene Adler, the only criminal
who has ever gotten the best of Holmes.
Downey Jr. brings quick-wit, cunning, and a scruffy toughness to a role long seen as stuffy and dry, while Law a distinguished charm that, at times, spills over into testy aggressiveness (which is funniest at Holmes most annoying). Both toss off the one-liners with ease. Ritchie's directorial style also comes through, from the dark, grimy Victorian- London production values to the violent boxing and martial arts matches. Holmes' mindset (such as the steps he takes to neutralize a suspect, interpret clues, follow the deceptive) also brings out Ritchie's ability to create an ultra-stylized flashback. There are also a few really thrilling action set-pieces involving a boat and an unfinished bridge. The plot, by three screenwriters, is a little on the convoluted side but it gets the job done with plot-twist on-top of plot twist. With all the brutal violence and style, you can be sure this isn't your Grandpa's Sherlock Holmes, but it will have you drooling for a sequel nonetheless.
Somehow, i've always avoided the cinematic (or TV) presentations of
Sherlock Holmes. I find the character fascinating, but i always felt it
was more invested in literature, not cinema. His deductions, the way he
surrounds the worlds he investigates are a feast for thinking minds.
Even when the deductions are over the top (which happens often!) one
can't stop smiling at the cleverness. More than that, the character is
a perfect piece invested in a clever, irresistible and fascinating
world. London. That part is visual, and a good ground to invest a
cinematic world. But, unlike for example anything by Agatha Christie,
Doyle's cleverness is rooted in pure deductive logic, not on the
mechanics of the world. Notice that Christie's crimes are many times a
matter of understanding how things happened, spatially (murder on the
orient express is the zenith of that). I suppose Doyle formed his mind
before cinema had any significant impact on how our minds work.
So the challenge for any modern filmmaker, and actor, who wants to update Holmes, is to make the character more cinematic, more appealing. Several tricks are used here, most of them successful, even if straightforward. One is the most obvious, making Holmes an action character (which actually is in its original dna, even though TV productions usually ignore that). This might be a flop, and make the version laughable, but by now there is a sense of irony and self awareness in Ritchie's films (sincer Lock Stock) that allows him to support a xxi century action figure in Holmes clothing that actually is watchable. A minor trick here is the association of the deduction with the very process of physical fighting, which creates some Matrix moments. Well, their watchable, though not particularly interesting. In the greater arc, there are good action sequences, because, as any competent action these days, considers the elements of the surrounding space, and uses them.
But there are two big things in this film, which take it to new levels of interest.
One is the acting. Jude Law is a clever guy, an interesting actor whose greatest quality is how he merges anonymously with the context he is intended to integrate. He willingly becomes a piece of a larger tapestry, and that really is something to look upon. There are not many actors who can claim they can do this competently. But the king of the game is Downey Jr. He is the gold piece in the puzzle of updating Holmes. There certainly will be a before-after Holmes character, with this film. The man is capable to work his performances on several directions, and each of them is a perfect link to its surroundings. So he gives in to Ritchie's demands, and introduces humour, irony, and self-awareness in the character, to make it usable for the director's winks at ironic action. He invests totally on the creation of a character who merges with the textures of the context, while being distinct from it. And while doing it, he folds us into his game, so we do everything with him, side by side. We deduce, we smile, we run, all with him. So, if the film hadn't other qualities, Downey Jr would still make it worthy, because he, alone, solves one the most basic problems with any film: to find a channel audiences can safely cross into the game someone (director) proposes. He is one of the best ever.
But there is another great thing here, which i suspect has a lot to do with several guys involved in the process of making the film. The result is an incredible sense of placement. London, XIXth century. All those dirty muddy streets, all the dirt. The fascination of the inner locations, namely the midget's laboratory. How those sets are usable, in the action scenes. That's all competent, more than competent. It's perfectly rendered, carefully photographed, it sounds overly artificial, but it's a matter of taste, i suppose. But what was really striking was the use of the London bridge. Notice how it is announced, early in the film, with a similar perspective to the one we'll get in the end. Than, the great sequence, when Irene Adler goes through the sewage, goes up, and we end up with a close up of her, in an unidentified location. The angle opens, we move away, and we are set up in the location for the final fight scene, which in its own merits is interesting enough. So, this was a unique way to actually use an establishing location, instead of merely showing it. I mean, how many films have shown the Eiffel towers? countless. How many actually use it? not so many. This is one of the best London cities we've seen lately.
My opinion: 4/5
Greetings again from the darkness. Great literature seldom makes for
great cinema. The mediums are vastly different. However great
literature, in the right hands, can make for very entertaining cinema.
Such is the case with Guy Ritchie's interpretation of Sir Arthur Conan
Doyle's greatest character.
Mr. Ritchie provides us with quite a departure from the Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce "Holmes and Watson". Here we get dazzling special effects and near super-human feats and stunts. Another twist is that this Holmes here is no meticulous, fastidious bore in real life. In fact, he lives more like a frat boy or rock star - replete with trashed room and bouts of isolation.
What is not missing is Holmes' world class attention to detail. The story here is multi-layered and actually very interesting, if not a bit high-minded and high-concept. The still-under-construction Tower Bridge plays a role in the film and the bleakness and gray of London is captured perfectly.
Of course, I won't reveal any details of the story other than to say the "good" guys are out to get a real bad guy here ... wonderfully played by the always solid Mark Strong, who may or may not be dead. That always makes for an interesting case! Support from Rachel McAdams and Eddie Marsan are fine, but Robert Downey Jr and Jude Law are the real stars as Holmes and Watson. As odd as it seems, they really do have a buddy factor that works well on screen. Downey's physicality has always set him apart from many contemporary actors ... he moves like a dancer and fights like a champion. Jude Law is often too pretty-boy for me, but he really does a nice job of capturing the reluctant sidekick with complimentary skills.
This is a BIG movie! It is made to be a rollicking good time with tons of popcorn munched. Smaller kids will not be able to follow the story, but anyone who has read a Holmes story (and isn't against a little artistic license) should see the film. It is extremely entertaining and fun to watch.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Sherlock Holmes - Based on the books by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the
popular detective is portrayed by Robert Downey Jr. His loyal companion
Watson (played superbly by Jude Law) is getting married and Holmes is
none too happy. Their antics are put on the shelf because Lord
Blackwood (ice cold Mark Strong), a powerful man of the occult world,
has committed a series of murders. When he is hung, he rises from the
grave and promises to drastically change the world with himself as
master. With the future of several countries at stake, it is up to
Holmes to stop Blackwood. Downey Jr. disappears into the role like the
character does with various disguises. He is completely believable as a
detective whose deductive skills are so powerful that, without focus,
mundane situations are overwhelming to his psyche. The film and role
Holmes is portrayed as a borderline manic depressive eccentric who cannot function unless he has a goal to accomplish. In other words: Robert Downey Jr. The film has fun exploring the part of Holmes left untouched by the films done by varying Television productions for many years. Namely: the physical side of Holmes. Yes, Holmes is a boxer, stick/sword fighter, and a martial artist. It was in the books, and it is done in this film as well. He flung Moriarty down a chasm with jujitsu in one of the stories for God's sake! It always bothered me that Holmes's eccentricities and drug-use seemed to be shelved on the screen in favor of a more well-put together stern man who would never deign to get his hands dirty. Holmes was never meant to be a symbol of stiff-upper lip Britain, yet that's what he became. The obvious reasons behind these choices were probably finances (or lack thereof concerning fight co-ordination) and censorship. It's funny how interpretations work. Icons are taken down such a strange path that, when someone decides to bring them to where they started, the old looks new. Batman was always noir. Bond was a quipless suave killer. Holmes could fight.
A down and dirty Holmes is more interesting (surprise!) to a 21st century audience than an omniscient uppercrust man eternally in a bathrobe. This Holmes is fairly true to the original character. It may not be true to the Holmes some people have in their heads, but that version cherry picks elements of Doyle's original creation. Actually this Watson is not as close to the original version (younger with no limp), but this Watson ties Holmes to reality, is less of an audience fill-in (read: a dumb shmoe) and kicks some major ass.
The film is riveting with only a few parts that actually lag. Huge explanations are saved until the end. We realize we have seem more or less all that Holmes has seen, and yet he gleaned far far more with his powerful intellect. Guy Ritchie's directing is vast and yet detail oriented. It's fairly comprehensible yet there is enough in the dialogue and character relationships to warrant future viewings.
Sherlock Holmes is smart and entertaining, a combination which always works better than either adjective by itself. This is an invigorating re-boot that reminds us why the detective is such an icon. Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law have perfect chemistry like an old married couple. Mark Strong plays a chilling villain and one lament is that, as part of the film is spent trying to find him, his performance is surprisingly brief. Rachel McAdams is the one part of casting that feels disingenuous. She's not quite devilish or sensuous enough to be the one woman that outsmarted Sherlock Holmes. Still, a thoroughly entertaining film for the head and heart. I look forward to the inevitable sequel. A-
-----It came as a surprise when Guy Ritchie was chosen as the Director
of 'Sherlock Holmes.' Known primarily for his work on indie crime
films, such as 'Snatch' or last year's 'RocknRolla,' Ritchie had never
taken on a mainstream franchise film, the likes of which 'Sherlock
Holmes' promised to be. Thankfully, Ritchie was able to mesh the two
genres on some level, with his trademark style of film-making ever
present in his latest outing. The result is a film that will surely
prove the most popular take on the character outside of Conan Doyle's
original novels, and will also likely spawn a franchise.
-----Sherlock Holmes and his partner Dr. Watson have been successfully solving cases throughout England for years. Their most recent case was that of Lord Blackwood, a man who murdered in the name of his black magic. Finally hanged for his crimes, it comes as an unpleasant surprise when he literally rises from his grave. And so it is up to Holmes and Watson to find him and stop him before his killing spree devours the whole of England.
-----Robert Downey Jr. is right at home in the role of the infamous detective. Swapping out futuristic armor for a pipe and fiddle, he plays another character with the wit and confidence of his Tony Stark persona in 'Iron Man.' This makes sense because, to some degree, what is 'Sherlock Holmes' if not merely the Tony Stark character set back about a hundred years? Regardless, Downey Jr. is excellent, providing an effervescent wit and supreme charm to his latest role. Jude Law plays his right hand man, Dr. John Watson, in a role much smarter than past incarnations of the Watson character. The two are more equals than hero and sidekick, and their chemistry is indelible. Even when the narrative becomes a bit erratic, the pleasure of seeing the two stars' continuous verbal quarrels is worth the price of admission alone. Together they inspire numerous laughs and clever rebuttals to an unrelenting degree, allowing many of the jokes to pass unrealized, saved for the treat of a second viewing.
-----'Sherlock Holmes' has a method completely reminiscent of Director Guy Ritchie's earlier films. In the style of show first-explain later, Ritchie has effectively applied his trademark fast cuts to the mind of his lead protagonist. Much as Watson is often catching up to Holmes' various schemes, so must the audience sit in question for a large portion of the film, waiting for Holmes to reveal his motivations. Particularly similar to his work on last year's entertaining 'RocknRolla,' along with many of his other films, Ritchie takes the first hour of his endeavors laying out the dots to be connected in his lengthy but fast-paced crescendo throughout the second half of the film. With 'Holmes,' he has compromised nothing, rather managed to find a better balance between build up and climax. With various fistfight intervals dissecting the chaotic mystery, Ritchie keeps the audience entertained even when they're unsure about the direction of the plot. That being said, many viewers will begin to question their purchase throughout the films first half hour, as the story puzzles more than entertains. But rest assured, a satisfying finale follows, with so many pieces coming together that a second viewing is a necessity to begin dissecting the intricacies of the case being solved, if that only means better understanding Holmes' course of action.
-----Visually Ritchie has constructed a film in the shadows, only occasionally getting out into spanning shots of daylight England. This, like the rest of the film, settles into place as the film develops. His infamous lightning cuts allow no slow moments, even when the pace would typically meander in the hands of a lesser Director. Holmes also riddles off explanations so rapidly that audiences can hardly pick up on all of what he is saying, or all of the nuanced humor during the interplay between Watson and him. Unfortunately much of the laugh-out-loud humor as been divulged in the trailer, but a film should not be penalized for the faults of its advertising campaign. The musical score is supplemental to the frantic convolutions of the film's earlier scenes, providing a spirited tune that rides the energy of fiddling and poses as anything but generic. The locations are likewise smart, the costumes are admirable, and the effects are gritty, proving to be another benefit of having an indie Director helm an event film. Ultimately there are no blatant shortcuts in the way of computer generation, only clever sets and a brilliant Art Direction.
-----'Sherlock Holmes' is refreshingly less conventional than one might guess, even if some viewers may find themselves a bit lost by Ritchie's unforgiving cuts and unrelenting energy. It jumps right into the tale, no origins told and no flashbacks necessary, relying on Holmes renowned history. Furthermore, many subtle elements of the various characters' past interactions are left for the audience to deduce in the fashion of Sherlock Holmes himself. And while the film may not be the grand epic some may have hoped for, its sheer entertainment value is undeniable. From the moment the credits roll it's apparent that 'Sherlock Holmes' cannot be full appreciated in one screening, and will likely grow in favor upon further viewings. It further presents itself as a gem of home entertainment in the long run, as a film that can be enjoyed on any occasion in any company, even with its hefty two-hour-plus runtime. This is a byproduct of the wonderfully gritty action Ritchie brings to the tale, and the uncompromising portrayal of the classic characters by the films superb leads. 'Sherlock Holmes' won't be quite what you expect, and you may even be dismayed by the films feisty narrative style, but more often than not you'll be completely entertained by the characters on screen in this fun addition to the loaded Holiday season.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Many people complains about the plot being confusing, but I found it
very simple: Two ninjas, Sherlock and Watson (the former said to be
very clever) have a fight each five minutes of the film. In-between
fights they try to solve a very difficult case about a bad guy (Lord
Blackwood) that, as Count Dracula, has the power to get into the minds
of the people and make them cause riots and protests everywhere in
Victorian London. Although the bad guy’s ambitions are merely
political, he also murders women as a hobby and that’s why he is
captured by the two ninjas, then prosecuted and finally hanged.
Many people go to see the execution, but nobody (not even the clever ninja) notes that the rope from which the bad guy hangs stays loose around his neck. The other ninja, said to be a physician, takes the pulse of the corpse directly on the neck, and realizes that the rope didn’t leave any mark whatsoever in the dead guy’s neck. Admired by how soft these new ropes are, he says nothing and declares him dead.
The bad guy wasn’t dead, but he was buried the same under big blocks of granite. This was a very hard task because these blocks were actually very small pieces glued together lightly so that the bad guy could break them from the inside of his grave and it must have required quite a lot of people to put these fragile blocks in place so delicately as not to unglue them. Fortunately for the bad guy no one working at the cemetery noticed this.
The film goes on very slowly after that. Anything they investigate is immediately followed by a long fight.
Very often Conan Doyle writes about cases that although they look supernatural at the beginning, a sound and rational explanation is provided at the end.
Guy Ritchie decides to change this tedious scheme, so that a crescendo is built till the last frame. To achieve this Guy Ritchie applies the rule that if a case looks supernatural, the explanation should be more supernatural than the case itself.
So, at the end, we are faced with magical substances (that couldn’t be found till now even in the Pandora moon) like a kind of clear, odorless liquid, that people take as water, which ignites readily and violently with just a spark, distilled cyanhydric acid that kills much better than the relatively pure counterpart so easy to obtain, an antidote thanks to which you can breathe hydrogen cyanide with no ill effects, small sized remote controls made in 1880, and many, many more. No ridicule is spared in explaining what has happened and how.
Such a display of fantasy for nothing; at the end the clever ninja cannot explain how the bad guy managed to get into the minds of the people and organize riots telepathically. Maybe there was also a magical gas that was released by the bad guy and caused this, but unfortunately this is not shown in the film.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I'm rating a 1/10 to counterbalance all the 9/10 reviews. This movie
was just another stupid, boring action movie. I might of given it more
stars if it wasn't named "Sherlock Holmes".
1. The characters in the movie were not Holmes and Watson. Maybe Dr. House and Jackie Chan. I read some reviews saying that this is the best portrayal of Holmes you've ever seen, seriously? Yes, he was eccentric, but he wasn't a smug, childish, karate champion, witty.... He was a proper British gentlemen. Why does he always have a stupid, baffled expression in the movie? You know the one with his eyes wide open.
2. I have to agree with another reviewer, Conan Doyle mostly had believable explanations. Not some remote control, flammable water, and lot's of other junk that they didn't have in the late 1800's.
3. I hate that everything nowadays has to be an action movie. Holmes and Watson were not crime fighting ninjas. I've read many Holmes books and I've yet to find one where he goes around kicking ass all over the place. Next we'll see a Jesus movie where there are lots of explosions.
This movie is good for the masses, but not if you are an actual thinking human being.
What a ride. "Sherlock Holmes" left me giddy. I absolutely loved it. It
was thrilling, funny, stylish, fast-paced and brilliantly acted.
Downey Jr. is a delight to look at. He eats up the screen. He gives the character all sorts of mannerisms and nuances which really bring Holmes to life like never before. The chemistry and interplay between him and Jude Law is hilarious.
I wasn't a big fan of Rachel McAdams's performance, but it didn't detract from the experience. I felt she just didn't bring as much to the table as the others. (Kinda like Katie Holmes in Batman Begins.)
Guy Ritchie really outdoes himself here. The way he uses the camera, the motion, the fluidity, the snappy pacing - I loved every minute of it.
A really fantastic movie. Well done.
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